Sunday, February 12, 2006


Jaromir Jagr is playing so well lately that even he admits part of it is luck. "Well it doesn't matter how I feel. Sometimes it's a matter of luck," said Jagr, who has 12 points in 5 games and is first in the NHL with 88 points and 40 goals.

Jagr is so good in fact he is a full 10 points ahead of the league's second best scorer Joe Thornton. He has 58 games into this season scored more points than in any season since his days with Pittsburgh when he score 121 in 2000-01. If he finishes the season as the NHL's leading scorer he would have accomplished the achievement for the sixth time.

Jagr has also lead the Rangers to a resurgence. As of now they are on pace to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 96-97 season. Which comes as a surprise as the Rangers were speculated to finish at the bottom of the league.

With the Rangers 20 games over .500 and Jagr the NHL's leading scorer there has been talk in the papers about being named MVP. But while the Czech's season has been rather impressive, is he the Ranger's MVP? The case could be, and will be made for the rookie sensation, Henrik Lundqvist.

Rookie sensation may be an understatement. He started the season as veteran Kevin Weekes backup and is playing better than most all-stars. At the Olympic break the Sweede ranks first in save percentage is tied for second in goals against average and is seventh most wins with 25. Lundqvist has been credited for being the teams leading penalty killer. Pretty impressive for the league's forth best penalty killing squad.

With Kevin Weekes suffering a groin injury the Rangers got better than they hoped in his replacement. Lundqvist stepped up and helped his team triumph over Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Jose Theodore in the first month of the season. Upon Weekes return Lundqvist kept getting starts due to his impressive performances starting the season with an impressive 8-1-1 record at home.

After splitting time with Weekes in November Lundqvist became the primary starter for the Rangers in December. He put up impressive numbers in response, he went 5-2-2 with a 2.39 GAA that month.

Things have gone just as well since, with the Rangers going into the Olympics with 6 wins in a row and 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. They stand in third place in the eastern conference behind only Carolina and Ottawa.

So who is the team's MVP?

The answer could come during the Turin Olympics. Where both Sweden and the Czech Republic have the players to qualify to medal games. Imagine, Jagr vs. Lundqvist. It could happen. If it does we could see who is the better player head to head.

What is the likelihood of this happening? Well just a few days ago Sweden was considered the favorite to win the gold, but have suffered injuries that could set them back. They've lost Markus Naslund and are likely to not see Peter Forsburg suit up. The two players are among the leading scorers in the league. Although Sweden should feel comfortable with Nicklas Lindstrom and Daniel Alfredsson as two of its leaders.

The Czech Republic which won the Olympics in 1998 will be relying on Jagr as well as Dominick Hasek to try to return the gold to the country. They have suffered a key injury as well, loosing the Ranger's other great rookie Petr Prucha. Though the Czech's too have a lot of depth when you consider players like Milan Hejduk and Robert Lang.

One thing is for sure. If your a Ranger fan you are salivating at the thought of a Czech Republic vs. Sweden Olympic gold medal game. The chance to see who the true leader of the team is. Will Jagr have the legs and the shot to don the gold for the second time. Or will Henrik Lundqvist gain valuable experience on his way to a Stanley Cup quest by winning the gold medal at the Olympic games in Torino.

No matter who is the team's MVP at the end of the season, they each certainly have had an easier season not facing the other. What the Olympics are providing is a chance to get to see Arod bat against Randy Johnson.

1 comment:

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